Today we went to the Vineyard. We arrived late. A half dozen of the locals flanked each entrance (the Vineyard is in a refurbished tractor manufacturing plant in the heart of the core). That was somewhat intimidating if not just very different. We went in during the worship time. Everyone was standing. We joined more of the locals in the back row because it was too hard to get at any of the other seating.
Strangely, I was more concerned with what the native people were thinking of me than having a lot of thoughts about them. Did they wonder why or that I looked uncomfortable or wasn't as "in" to the worship as the other people? Did it bother them that we were sitting in "their" row? As I write this, I realize how absurd these thoughts are. But that's how easily I get self-conscious.
I did notice how battered, scarred, and generally ill many of these people looked. So downtrodden. And yet some of them have smiles that can light up the room. I loved the way some of the men interacted with them. Just kind of kidding around with them. A real ease. The pastor happened to meet us in the parking lot. Really friendly and personable. He introduced us to Melvin. It's amazing what knowing someone's name does. They're no longer just "one of them". They're a real, unique person (who happens to share my dad's name).
I also saw the most beautiful lady who was Aboriginal. She wore a flowing skirt and blouse in a lilac colour and soft white leather moccasins. She glowed with a radiance that came from God. What a difference!
Anyways, there was more to my experience than the presence of native people. It is striking what an impact having this people group around has on me. At Willowlake, there is refreshing mix of ethnicity, but most everyone is in a similar economic bracket and as such, fairly comfortable. It's been very good to get out of my comfort zone.
As I was saying, there was more. People were worshipping with heart, soul and body. This is not new to me, but not something I've been around in the last four years or so. Part of me desperately wanted to join in and part of me mocked their passion, cynical about what it really meant or accomplished. This cynicism was jolting. A real sign of my disillusionment and woundedness. I decided I need to start journalling and praying earnestly for a soft heart and an openness to God and his working.
My thoughts are so broken up today.
Most of the music was unknown to me. It was amazing how much of it spoke of pain. A few phrases stuck out: "though he slay me I will trust him", "come, Lord Jesus, come" and something about everything I do being about God. I just tried to soak it in a bit.
It turns out that the Sunday we picked they were having a get together afterwards "at the farm" and so there was no teaching time and the service was cut short. As we left, we picked up a brochure on a course they run about justice...forming relationships with people who are poor...struggling with issues of inequality (I don't really know how to put it, but it sounded interesting).
I don't know if I would want to regularly attend a church like that or not, but I'm glad I went. Going out of my comfort zone is teaching me a great deal about myself if nothing else.